I recently stumbled across the "Teach and Retire Rich" podcast and the NYT article on 403B accounts, which lead to me to this website and what seems like a wonderful and helpful community of people. I also became a father in June, which has made me want to take stock of my family's overall finances a bit more with a unified plan. I am not sure if this is the appropriate forum for my questions, but any advice, guidance, or tips would be greatly appreciated, as I get the sense from the podcast that many educators are grappling with the same issues.
Like so many others on here have likely experienced, when I started teaching nine years ago at age 21, I signed up for a 403b account through a representative who showed up at my school without really understanding fees or the long-term financial implications; I heard retirement savings and thought it sounded responsible, so I just did it. In going back and assessing it now, I am hoping for help with 3 questions:
1) If I want to get out of the annuity products / company I am with, what is the best way to do so? I am currently signed up for the MetLife Financial Freedom Select, with a large portion of each contribution going toward a fixed income account. There is currently about $22,000 in the account, and I am not sure what the tax / fee penalties would be to switching a different provider and away from an annuity structure. My wife works for a hospital system and also has a 403b with an employer match, so we max that out; my plan is a supplement to that plan. I also am part of the NJ state pension system at the Tier 2 level.
2) Of the list of providers my school contracts with, does anyone have experience with them or recommendations as to which are best / low fee? Here is the list provided by my payroll department:
403(b) Company Name VALIC AXA Equitable Lincoln Life Met Life Security Benefit Lincoln Investment Planning USAA 403(b)(7) Company Name Aspire 403(b) (formerly 403 ASP) Security Benefit/NEA Valuebuilder AXA Equitable/Pen Serve Lincoln Investment Planning 457(b) Company Name AXA Equitable
3) Is it a good idea to pay for the advice / services of a NAPFA fiduciary in my area? I like researching things myself; however, I feel it may be wise to pay a professional for an initial assessment as I change 403b's and look into setting up a college fund for my daughter and potentially a Roth account. Does anyone have any experience using a CFP as a fiduciary or a recommendation of a good one in the central NJ area?
I know there is a lot of information in here, but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and this seemed like a helpful forum, so I figured it was worth a s. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read / respond.